SPL - Hearts come from behind to shock Rangers
Hearts came from a goal down at half-time to beat Rangers 2-1 in the SPL at Ibrox on Saturday.
Rangers skipper Steve Davis had given Ally McCoist's men the lead in first half injury-time, but Ian Black levelled for the Edinburgh side with a sumptuous finish two minutes before the hour mark.
Jamie Hamill fluffed his initial kick, but reacted first to the rebound after Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor had saved the penalty.
The result leaves Rangers 21 points behind leaders Celtic in second place in the SPL table. Hearts move above Dundee United into fifth place, with 39 points from 29 games.
Rangers players headed into the game aware it could be their last game for the club.
On Friday night administrators refused an offer from players to defer wages, meaning that the £4.5million cost savings must come from elsewhere.
Rangers administrator David Whitehouse then spoke to the media ahead of the game, and said: "There are likely to be job losses, yes."
He also said that the players' offer of wage deferrals would not deal with the fundamental issues. "It was never acceptable, no. Deferring wages is sustaining a high level of cost base."
Ryan McCabe made his first start for Rangers, one of two enforced changes to the team that beat Inverness last week.
McCabe replaced the suspended Maurice Edu, whilst the returning left-back Lee Wallace came in for the injured Kirk Broadfoot.
Ross Perry continued at right-back, with Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra in the centre of defence.
After a cagey start, Rangers were denied by a goalline clearance on the quarter-hour mark. Sone Aluko's corner was flicked on by Carlos Bocanegra, but Black was alert at the far post to clear off the line.
Two minutes later, debutant McCabe almost netted a stunning half-volley from 30 yards, after Webster had only half-cleared Davis's free-kick, but Hearts goalkeeper Jamie McDonald was able to save the fizzing effort.
Rangers could have taken the lead in the 44th minute. Sone Aluko found Salim Kerkar who threaded the ball across the area, but Andrew Little's first-time shot at the near post was superbly saved by McDonald.
Yet, a minute later, it was the Hearts goalkeeper's mistake that led to the opening goal.
After a Hearts foul, Goian chipped an inch-perfect quick free-kick down the right touchline for Little, who beat Grainger and cut the ball low for Davis to slam the ball straight at McDonald. The 25-year-old should have saved, but instead let the ball go through his body for Davis' fifth goal of the season.
Hearts were trying to make play disjointed, and were not above making a series of niggly fouls to get their way. But the home side looked able to deal with the tactics, and had two clear chances in the first five minutes of the second-half.
First, Aluko set up the overlapping Davis down the right, but the Ulsterman's shot across goal was inches wide.
Then, Carlos Bocanegra went close with a header after outjumping Marius Zaliukas to McCabe's free-kick from the left.
Hearts levelled matters on 56 minutes with a goal of real quality, and one slightly out of keeping with their earlier play.
Andrew Driver's run to the touchline ended in a Scott Robinson header that forced a goalline clearance from Bocanegra, but Hamill teed up the loose ball for Black to caress a right-footed shot over Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
Rangers continued to carve out chances, with Davis and McCabe breaking to set up Little with a snapshop from the right channel that was well saved to his right by McDonald.
Midway through the second half, Rangers were denied by a goalline block from Zaliukas. McCabe set up Little in the box with a lovely angled pass, but McDonald was out bravely to block. However, with the Hearts goalkeeper on the floor, Little was quickest to react to the loose ball and shoot goalwards, only to be denied by the Hearts captain.
Rangers thought they should have had a penalty when a combination of Grainger and Zaliukas pushed over Lee McCulloch in the box, but referee Allan decided that there was no foul.
But, with twelve minutes remaining, Allan decided to penalise a tangle in the area between Goian and Webster as they tried to get on the end of a corner. It was met with anger and mystification by the Rangers players and fans, but Allan's mind was not for changing.
After the delay for protests, Hamill's penalty was poor and saved by McGregor, but the full-back was first to follow up to give Paulo Sergio's men the points.